Relief for Sharifs as IHC suspends Avenfield sentence

Relief for Sharifs as IHC suspends Avenfield sentence My Country
Relief for Sharifs as IHC suspends Avenfield sentence My Country

Relief for Sharifs as IHC suspends Avenfield sentence My Country

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday suspended the sentences awarded to deposed premier Nawaz Sharif, daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Safdar.

A division bench comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb also allowed petitions filed by Sharif family members against the accountability court’s July 6 verdict in Avenfield reference case which found them guilty of corruption and sentenced them to imprisonment and fines.

“The instant writ petition is allowed and sentence awarded to the petitioners by the accountability court shall remain suspended till the final adjudication of the appeal filed by the petitioner,” reads the judgment. “The petitioner shall be released on bail subject to furnishing bail bonds in the sum of Rs500,000 with one surety in the amount to the satisfaction of deputy registrar of the high court.”

The order allows the release of Sharif family members from Rawalipindi Central Jail – where they have been incarcerated since July 13.

Chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal, in a meeting, said NAB will appeal in the apex court against IHC’s verdict.

The hearing was attended by PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif along with Mushahiddullah Khan, Raja Zafarul Haq, Khawaja Asif, Ahsan Iqbal and others.

Shortly after the verdict was announced, Nawaz’s younger brother tweeted a Quranic verse to express gratitude on suspension of the sentences. While Asif termed the IHC judgment a “victory for justice”.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, Attorney General of Pakistan Anwar Mansoor Khan said the verdict was “expected and nothing out of the ordinary.”

In the July 6 decision, Accountability Judge Muhammad Bashir had sentenced Nawaz to 10 years rigorous imprisonment (RI), Maryam to 7 years RI and Safdar to one-year (RI). The accused were also disqualified to contest elections or to hold public office for a period of 10 years after release.

Following the accountability court’s judgment in the Avenfield reference, the Sharifs’ filed separate petitions through counsel Khawaja Haris and Amjad Pervaiz requesting the high court to suspend sentences and set aside the verdict.

The petitions moved the onus of proof from the accused to the prosecution. In the course of court proceedings, the IHC mulled whether the conviction can be based on presumption as NAB continued to raise objections over the maintainability of the petitions.

The anti-graft watchdog also moved the Supreme Court to block the Avenfield verdict suspension pleas before the IHC. However, the top court penalised NAB for filing a “frivolous” petition and fined the anti-graft watchdog Rs20,000.

Relief for Sharifs as IHC suspends Avenfield sentence My Country